Motovun is situated on a hilltop in the Istrian peninsula and offers a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. In this traveller’s guide, I will take you through everything you need to know about Motovun before planning your trip.
Table of Contents
Sightseeing in Motovun
A brief history of Motovun – the medieval town
Motovun is a small town located in the heart of Istria, Croatia. The town dates back to the 14th century and is known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, including its Venetian-style bell tower and city gates. The town was once an important defensive stronghold during medieval times and has witnessed several battles and invasions throughout history.
The town’s rich cultural heritage is reflected in its various landmarks, including the Church of St. Stephen, which dates back to the 17th century and features Gothic and Baroque elements. Visitors can also explore the town’s walls and fortifications, offering panoramic countryside views.
Motovun was a part of the Venetian empire, and reminders of that time can be seen everywhere you look. Coats of arms grace the buildings. Venice´s symbol, stone lions from the 14th century, are guarding over the town gates. The late-Renaissance church of St. Stephan was designed by architect Andrea Palladio and the painting of the Last Supper that is behind the church´s altar is the work of an unknown 17th-century Venetian.
In the town square, you can find water cisterns with pipes that date from the 14th and 15th centuries.
Take a walk in the town walls of Motovun that dates back to the 11th and 12th century and enjoy in the stunning view on the vineyards and forests.
Motovun’s famous truffles – where to find them and how to enjoy them
Truffles are another speciality of the Istrian peninsula, and Motovun is known for its black and white truffles. The vast oak forest around Motovun is a treasure trove of these precious fungi. Truffle hunting is a popular activity in the region, and visitors can join a truffle hunt to experience the thrill of unearthing these culinary gems.
The Istrian white truffle (Tuber magnatum Pico) belongs to the most precious and highest quality truffles in the world. The biggest truffle in the world was found in this forest in 1999., and the founder Giancarlo Zigante is still holding the record in the Guinness book of records.
The town’s restaurants and cafes offer a variety of truffle-based dishes, including truffle pasta, truffle risotto, and truffle-infused olive oil. Visitors can also attend truffle festivals held in the region throughout the year to taste the local delicacies and learn more about this culinary treasure.
Nature around Motovun
Nature around Motovun is green. A vast Motovun forest is renowned for its oaks. It is a rare phenomenon of a floodplain forest in Croatian karst – the soil is wet. The Mirna River is flowing through the woods, It is heavily regulated, but still brings the water to the forest through the soil. Oaks, interesting plants harbor many plant animals, but the most famous organism is a truffle. This delicacy is growing in the ground, and special help are needed to find it. Dogs, with their excellent sense of smell, are well suited for this task.
Motovun Film Festival
Motovun Film Festival is Motovun´s most famous event. Since it was established in 1999. It is entirely dedicated to films made in small cinematographies and by independent producers. This festival can be best described as a film marathon that lasts for a couple of days in late July every year, with film projections uninterrupted from 10 in the morning until 4 after midnight. Daily projections are in the cinema while the evening ones take place in the open air.
The Festival of Terran Wine and truffles
This one-day event that takes place last Saturday in September. It is an exhibition and public tasting of Teran wine, and an exhibition of truffles where the biggest is awarded with the “Veli Jože” title.
The luckiest visitor of the Festival can win the prize contest and take home the truffle which was awarded the “Veli Jože” title and a collection of gold-medal winning Teran wines.
Motovun is located only 25km from the Poreč, on the way to the Buzet.
This charming old town is an excellent choice for a day trip if you want to experience more than just the coast of Istria and treat your palate with delicious food and fine wines.
The city center is closed for vehicles, except for people living there, and as a tourist, you must park your car in a big parking lot at the old cemetery. This is not a problem, as you will need less than 10 minutes of walking uphill to the main town square. At the same time, you will have the chance to enjoy the fantastic view, sightseeing, shop in souvenir shops, or in tasting and buying wine and truffles.
Where to stay
Hotel Kaštel is located in the main square of the old town. In this 3 stars hotel, you can be situated in one of 33 cosy rooms, and enjoy the indoor swimming pool and wellness.
Wine & Heritage Hotel Roxanich is located outside the old town. In this 5 stars hotel, you can truly experience luxury and hedonism.
If hotels are not your first choice, you can find apartments and villas for rent in the town, and also a campsite.
Where to eat
Restaurant Konoba Mondo
You can find this small restaurant just outside the main town gate. Their menu is based on the local ingredients, mostly truffles.
This restaurant belongs to the hotel of the same name. It has a charming terrace under the big trees in the old town where you can enjoy tasty food.